Updated: Sep 14, 2021
Week of Monday, August 30th- September 3rd:
People often ask the question, “Why does God ‘allow’ so much evil in the world”, or “If there is a God, why is there so much suffering?” This is an intriguing question because I have definitely had similar thoughts before. But as I write this, my answer is also developing. The first thought I have is that we humans have free will, and the second is, God lives in every single one of us. Lastly, “Who is God to me?” might be the better question to ask. For example, is God some elusive old man in the sky, a figment of our imaginations, or is God a living, flowing spirit who transcends physical reality? If God did not allow us as people to choose our own paths and make our own decisions, would we be human at all, and would God be God? Once again, in this world we have free will. In my relationship, if I never let my partner make his own decisions about what to eat, who to talk to, or what career choices to make, am I really loving him, or just waging control on him? Of course, we talk through things and I give my input, but ultimately, freedom is allowing someone the autonomy to make his or her own life decisions.
It is the wealthy billionaire giving people the opportunity to go into space. It is the leaders of a country who make the decision to enter into a war. It is a man or woman who proposes to the person he or she loves. It is the college student who chooses what discourse to study, and it is the athlete who decides to train harder or to give up. It is the couple who chooses to try for a baby. In every one of these situations, those people are influenced by others, by society, and if you believe, by God. So which influence is the most powerful?
That leads me to the second thought: God lives in every one of us. Whether we admit it, comprehend it, or see it, there is a spiritual aspect to our lives. It could be considered energy, even vibes, but it certainly exists. Everything connects. So, yes, people do bad things in the name of religion and God. Yes, wars happen in the name of religion. But if God lives in us and we have free will, is it God who chooses harmful words, or us? Is it God who turns away from a homeless person on the street, or us? Now, in situations, as humans, we may feel suffering and pain so deep from something that someone did to us that we resort to unhealthy habits. We may experience a loss so great in life that we feel empty and alone and resort to cruel actions or words. But we may also, knowingly, choose to be selfish or hateful in certain moments.
Choices are made by people, and people are flawed, and that’s okay. But what influences will we allow to persist and dominate in our lives? It is GOD who says, “love your neighbor”. It is GOD who says, “care for the sick, the widow, and the orphan.” It is GOD who shows compassion to a prostitute. It is GOD who says don’t live in a selfish way. It is GOD who says live in harmony, be merciful and seek justice. The question is, do we? Do we live selflessly? Do we care for our bodies and those of others? Do we share when we have, and give thanks when someone gives to us? Do we use our privilege for greed or for humankind? So, instead of asking why so much evil exists in the world, let us ask, “what good am I putting into the world?” and “just like in the ways that I have been shown mercy, grace and safety by God, am I providing that to others as well?” So that goes back to my other question of who is God. Not who is God to the world, and not who is God based on one leader of a church, but who is God. If God has never worked any blessing, miracle, or good thing in your life, that’s okay. But I do believe that at some point, perhaps even at many points, you have been a blessing to someone else’s life.
And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil
Feel free to explore these verses more this week:
As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him.